Editor’s Note: The following article is brought to you by ComplianceMate in partnership with the Supply Chain Network.
In the restaurant business, it’s an ongoing struggle to keep labor costs at an acceptable level. One commonly cited guideline holds that labor expenses should add up to no more than 30% of a restaurant's gross revenue.
But this isn’t always the case, is it?
As a restaurant owner or manager, you know you need to do all that you can to eliminate time-consuming and costly work practices.
What you might not know is that paper checklists could be taking a huge toll on your business and, therefore, your wallet.
One extremely effective but often overlooked cost-cutting tactic is using digital checklists to replace those old-fashioned paper-based record-keeping solutions.
Need some convincing that going digital is the answer for your restaurant? Let’s have a look at the ways that digitizing your checklists can help you control your labor expenses and improve your business workflows.
Automate to Reduce Human Error
One chronic problem with checklists is that they sometimes don’t get filled out at all—let alone correctly. “Pencil whipping”—falsifying safety records—is a serious issue in the restaurant industry.
By going paperless and using digital checklists, however, you can reduce the incidence of this problem, and overall human error, by putting time and temperature-related data on autopilot, ensuring that these vital steps are completed in a timely manner.
Automatic timestamps tell you exactly when certain tasks were done so you can keep track of every touchpoint and the specific steps undertaken by your team to manage these important tasks.
Ensure Quick Access to Old Data
Occasionally, it’s necessary to look up past checklist data for completing an audit, comparing trends over time, or fulfilling another compliance-related task. It goes without saying that it’s best to be able to get to this information with minimal time and effort. However, paper filing systems tend to be difficult to search through, especially on short notice, and can take up time—and therefore incur additional costs.
Using digital checklists gives you an opportunity to store your valuable data in the cloud, where it can be easily accessed on demand by any web-enabled device. This makes auditing procedures simple and fast. All that information is kept securely in the same place, even if you have multiple business locations to manage.
Enhance Training Procedures
Digital checklists can also include training materials and "how-to" guides that aid employees in performing their duties correctly and efficiently. This can be especially helpful if a business has high turnover or relies on independent contractors, which is an increasingly common phenomenon these days.
Digital checklists can even include photos and training videos to provide detailed guidance to these inexperienced employees, catching them up to speed quickly.
When using paper checklists, it takes extra time to write down information with a pen or pencil. There’s no doubt that it’s just faster to use mobile devices. Digitizing the checklist process has the benefit of speeding up compliance tasks and improving labor efficiency.
Younger employees in particular are accustomed to doing things on portable devices, so why not accommodate them while getting ahead of the curve?
Making the Switch
There’s no denying that there has been a shift in the business community toward “paperless” solutions, so you can expect digital checklists to assume an increasingly prominent role in the restaurant sector over the coming decade.
A single additional investment in your food safety and compliance initiatives now could help you get those labor costs back on track for the future.
Tom Woodbury is Vice President of National Accounts at ComplianceMate, a company dedicated to providing restaurants with state-of-the-art technology to enhance food safety and ensure compliance with HACCP regulations. The ComplianceMate system revolutionizes the way restaurants manage food safety procedures with automated temperature monitoring and digital checklists.